Artworks in the Collection

Girl with a Book (1929)

One of the most talked-about and exhibited paintings by Jovan Bijelić, the portrait of Draga Stojković, a student of philosophy at the time, entitled Lady in Blue was first exhibited in 1929 in Belgrade at the Second Autumn Exhibition of Paintings and Sculptures. It was praised even then for its monumental composition and colouristic skill. At a later date Bijelić admitted that “there are three paintings I love the most and think about most often, paintings I can single
out above all the rest I produced: the Bather, the Girl with a Blue Hat and the Landscape (with the Golden sky), realistic pieces, done – I think I can freely say – boldly and almost unconsciously.” This statement only encouraged the classification of this piece as one of the key achievements in his artistic development. Along with the nude entitled Bather, which was produced in that same year, this piece indicates the basic premise of Bijelić’s further formation and work, above all, the reduced significance of solid formal structure and the introduction of colour as the basic factor in expression, which would culminate during the period of the artist’s full maturity in the 1930s. At the same time, the Girl with a Book is another reminder of the significance and meaning of portraits in Bijelić’s opus, wherein this genre, as a continuous preoccupation, testifies not only to the stylistic transformations his work was undergoing, but even more to his environment, the status of the bourgeois society where the artist lived and worked.

Jovan Bijelić